“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is a somber send-off to long-running franchise’s legacy: A Film Review

by Matthew Escosia
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
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SEA Wave reviews “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”, the fifth and final installment of the “Indiana Jones” franchise starring Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Mads Mikkelsen.

Unlike James Bond or Superman, there can only be one Indiana Jones. The legacy character played by Harrison Ford has been at the forefront of adventure films since the early ‘80s with “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. No other actor or filmmaker has dared to replace Ford for the role.

Even other film and television tentpoles tried to replicate the magic and energy of what the Indiana Jones character has put on-screen, but they’re never been the same – and the only correct formula is to just bring back Indy again. This is why the audience’s expectations for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”, the fifth and likely final installment of this franchise, have always been through the roof.

Capping the hat off

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Photo from Walt Disney Studios/ LucasFilms

Harrison Ford is at the age of late 70 during the production of this movie, which is why he brings in a set of younger actors to do the literal heavy lifting for its action set pieces: Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the wise adventurer Helena Shaw and her sidekick Teddy, portrayed by Ethann Isidore.

The trio embarks on a race against former Nazis to find a dial that has the power to change the course of events in history.

This is a great plot for old Indy to have his final adventure. A senior sporting his hat again for a globe-trotting journey and also, one last chance to witness the historical milestones he has always been passionate about. The movie banks on this premise and it delivers.

In “Dial of Destiny”, we get to witness Indiana Jones at his most vulnerable while also ushering his hunger for big thrills. And while it made some big ambitious swings, the best parts of the movie are moments where the action is put on the side and Indy’s decaying reality seeps in.

Ford at the top of his game

 
Harrison Ford’s return as an older Indiana Jones may not be the most exciting thing on paper, but it’s a harrowing exploration of how the most heroic individuals can never escape the time ticking off their backs.

I believe this is Ford, at the top of his game again. This version of Indy may never be as fun, but it’s equally rich.

Just watching Ford play this character again is worth the admission. No more. Waller-Bridge and other actors from the ensemble such as Mads Mikkelsen, Boyd Holbrook, and Antonio Banderas are great additions to the cast but they never really make a lasting mark when compared to the franchise’s previous side characters.

De-aging Indy

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Photo from Walt Disney Studios/ LucasFilms

Major discussions surrounding the movie criticize the use of visual effects technology to de-age and recreate a younger look for Ford as Indy.

“Dial of Destiny” has a lengthy opening sequence where we see our titular hero in an earlier age (at a period where the old Indiana Jones movies are set). With Ford’s face being iconic and recognizable from the get-go, moviegoers who have grown up watching him may easily be distracted from this.

It’s a minor detail that has catapulted even bigger disappointments for the remainder of the film. And while it’s a merit that shouldn’t be an excuse to hate the movie as a whole, I feel many viewers dismiss an even larger problem: the film sees Indiana Jones as a prop to move the story forward instead of the other way around.

Dialing down

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Photo from Walt Disney Studios/ LucasFilms

The charm of the first three Indiana Jones movies is seeing the protagonist take charge of his narrative. We’re invested because his adventures lead him to not just triumphs but also unfortunate accidents; his misadventures become exciting detours to find a new part of himself.

“Dial of Destiny”, having to deal with Harrison Ford/ Indiana Jones with a weaker physique, reduced him as a legacy character in his movie. This resulted in a lot of supposedly exciting sequences here becoming just “sequences” that happen to have their title character.

Verdict

 
Overall, I still think “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is fascinating when it allows Harrison Ford to explore his character more. It’s a rarity to have someone so iconic as Indiana Jones to even be part of the cinema fare today – and in a period where studios continue to clamor and bank in sequels and reboots to legacy franchises, this movie surprisingly did not pander too much on nostalgia. I just wish this will be the end of it.

 

SEA Wave rates “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” a 3 out of 5 waves.

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is now showing in cinemas nationwide from Walt Disney Studios!

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